By SEVE COUSINS
Special to ZAGSBLOG
SPARTA, N.J. — On Saturday night, Pope John XXIII High School (Sparta, N.J.) hosted the first annual Living Hope Festival to Benefit Cancer Research.
The event featured two of the top teams in New Jersey in host team Pope John XXIII and St. Benedict’s as well as St. Andrew’s (R.I.), Hillhouse (Conn.) and Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
Some of the top young talent in the tri-state area was on hand when St. Benedict’s Prep knocked off Our Savior New American at the buzzer, 68-66.
AJ Sumbry, the 6-foot 7-postgrad who is headed to Quinnipiac next year, had 16 points, including the game-winning tip-in at the buzzer. The Grey Bees were led by another postgrad, Jamal Lane, The LIU-bound Lane added 20 points in the win.
This game also featured sophomore Cheick Diallo a 6-9 forward/center and native of Mali. Diallo finished with 20 points as he dominated inside with his tremendous shot-blocking ability and athleticism.
Diallo got plenty of help on the interior from teammate, freshman Kassoum Yakwe, who had 16 points hitting on an array of turnaround jumpers and put-back dunks.
Diallo is a very active player who is huge presence on the defensive end but is a bit raw offensively. The rangy forward’s potential is through the roof.
“He’s added a lot of new facets to his game, he’s got elite hands and he’s really worked on his post moves,” Our Savior New American assistant coach Erik Jaklitsch told SNY.tv.
Only a sophomore, he currently holds offers from St. John’s, Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Iowa State, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, UNLV and Providence. He also has interest from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio State.